Soft Thorn
7 October - 13 October 2019

‘There isn’t any other origin for beauty than that of a wound, singular, different for each, hidden or visible, that all mankind keeps within itself, that it preserves and to which it retires when it wishes to leave the world for temporary but profound solitude.’
Jean Genet

As Jean mentioned, ‘wound’, in some circumstance, is more like a hidden and moaning soul. What I have been concentrate on are those ‘wounds’ and ‘sorrows’ growing with teenagers, especially with adolescents who doubt themselves, query about sexuality, or build their identities through rebellious behaviors. While I am seeking a self-reflection in my tentative work, I attempt to penetrate a deeper layer of people’s psychic world, or from another perspective, mine.

I was born and raised in a traditional Chinese Christian family in a small town where a reputation is shared for its picturesque Fuchun River in southern China. Growing up in a Christian family put me in a kind of dilemma when I was conscious of my “different” sexual orientation. Thus, I was compelled to accept psychological treatment since fifteen when I first told my parents the “sin”. Whereas, for a photo-based queer artist, pondering the young queers’ predicament combined with a sense of nostalgia and Oedipus complex became the main collision in my practice.

Soft Thorn (2013-2017), with the initial intention to record a journey of nostalgia after the departure from my home, contains candid, staged portraits and moment in the backdrop of my hometown. Inspired by Robbe-Grillet’s Voyeur, which described the whole fiction in another subtle view instead of the subjective view, it occurred to me that I could accomplish a description of myself and a selfie through those directed portraits. As those models are mainly my close queer friends and Christian relatives, by what I mean, I am prone to perform my sentiments and sorrows to capture myself in those portraits of people I share intimacy relationship.

All the approaches which depict sentimental expressions, weakness and relationship bonds in the domain of family are what I always pay attention to and get inspiration from like the war theme comics of Clamp, which has an immense picture to describe human-beings’ destiny with the forbearance of affection among those characters. The definitions and the performances of family relationships in Bergman’s films also affect me. And those visual tricks Cocteau played in the film trigger me as well. What else is the fictions of Robbe-Grillet, the way how he tells a story in “Voyeur”, I mean describing the whole fiction story from another subtle view instead of the subjective view, it arouses me to organize the soft thorn by those directed portraits and subjective, candid works or snapshots around me to finish the description of myself, finding my identification by feeling the resonance of all those picture, it’s an approach to reflect myself, like a mirror.

Boway Young (b. 1994, Hangzhou, China) is a photographer based in Beijing and London.

He mainly focusing on photographing the Chinese teenage queer group, documenting the contemporary teenage queers living in China combined with staged memories of his childhood. He also tries to query the self-identity in the awareness of diverse collective identifications. He had exhibited his work in China, Japan, Russia, the United States, and other countries. His work was also published by Lens Culture, Aint-bad magazine, Ignant Magazine and China Daily, among others.